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   Jacket 34 — October 2007        link Jacket 34 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

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David Solway

Five poems:

The Garden
Enion Made It
The Lemonade Bottle
Arnaldo Vincenzi

This piece is about 6 printed pages long.
It is copyright © David Solway and Jacket magazine 2007.

The Garden
                              Lyke as the Culver on the bared bough
                                 — Spenser, Amoretti, 89

Under the pale lilac bush
moorgrass whispers from its hidden bed
to the monarch-bearing milkweed,
and the plump robin freighting
the berry-cumbered honeysuckle
whistles the secret to the chickadee
darting between the hedges.

Laden with epistles
a tumult of bluets and fritillaries
prints the air with messages
as mullein leans its slender stalk
to confide in a tigering of bees
busy with their blacks and golds
and the honey of their living.

Even purple loosestrife
races across the lower meadow
panicked by the yellow trumpets
of the brassy, orchestral lilies,
and the wood dove creaks with fright
for the cover of the branches.

Now the hummingbird,
milking petalled flocks of lavenders and pinks,
stalls in mid-maneuver
while the double-decker dragonfly
in the aftermath of rain
hovers by the spires of the bull thistle,
murmuring its encyclicals
of desire and regret
for the wet and shimmering kingdom.

For the news has spidered out
in the cold opulence of its silks
to every corner of the garden:
to where the tender seed heads
of the ditch-green sedges
purple toward the future
and the ovals of the rosehips
ripe with orpiment
pour their hearts out in the plummeting sun.

For the word has gone out
to all the tremulous creatures
beneath the parable of the white pines
dropping their soft sickles
in russet masses to the ground.
The word has gone out
in the colloquies of those who love the garden
that in the radiant vacancies they inhabit
there is only the gardener
to love them back.

Enion Made It

Take your time. Mix silica and lime by
slow degrees, regulate the flux, whether
ash of brown bracken, briar, beechwood, oak,
or kelp piled in stacks for the alkali.
Avoid crizzeling and frit, you don’t want
cullet dribbling in globules from the lehr —
this is a delicate operation.
If you are hankering for effects, add
soft red lead to the batch instead of lime
to marry the silicates and bring warm
brilliance to the rounded cheek of the glass.
Make sure to roll the gather on a steel
marver and temper at the glory-hole
to breed symmetry and fire-polish, drip
oil into emery powder and fret,
set a small coin into the finial,
flare the bowl and flute the baluster stem
trailing the canes side-on to the ribbed mold,
then stain the colour in with minerals.
Next, work it to a merrythought design —
drop-knops and arabesques of herring-bone — ,
prick sprues for liquid gold to trickle in,
then brad the prunts on like cut raspberries
and stud them round with corrugated gems.
Look! The vessel glitters with refractions.
So now you can say: Enion made it.
Here is your patterned goblet from Sidon.

The Lemonade Bottle

                                       And that simplest Lute,
                  Placed length-ways in the clasping casement, hark!
                  How by the desultory breeze caressed...
                                       S.T. Coleridge, The Aeolian Harp

The weather is up, the poet said,
and the wind sings in my lemonade.
It’s all in the angle and the warp,
as good as an Aeolian harp,
that patterns the fluent, oval hymn
the wind intones on the bottle rim.
How the fragile, jittery and dread
intensity of the oboe reed
quivers in this bottle’s slender neck
to the wind’s perpetual baroque!
O nothing’s deaf to the common count
of such harmony and counterpoint
as Nature everywhere composes
in sudden musical surprises.
For melody is everywhere sent
through the unlikeliest instrument —
cats and kettles, or a spindly dwarf
at the keyboard, or pebbles in surf,
through the motor gearing up the road
or the dense, unfashionable ode,
in water licking against the pail
and cobblestones pattering with hail,
through leaf and locust, knocker and bell,
and this inanimate nightingale —
by some hidden, unsuspected god
or the genie in the lemonade.

Arnaldo Vincenzi

Garrisoned in his realms,
attending to the rustle of materials,
Arnaldo pumps the pedal
of his antique Singer,
articulating seams and gussets and vents,
taking in waistbands, letting out waistbands,
stitching, hemming, trimming, fitting, refitting,
tailoring our vested interests
and expertly rethreading
the frayed reticulations that we are.

It’s good to see him there
in his richly tapestried demesnes,
lord of suitable adjustments
centered in a web of intimate stuffs and fabrics,
plying the overlock,
mouth bristling with pins,
not thinking of retirement,
crisping pleats, smoothing out creases,
spinning subliminal thread from spools pivoting on spindles,
thin needles jabbing into flattened bolts
beneath a battery of gleaming instruments —
bobbins and valves and tappets
he works to sweet perfection.

This master of subtle alterations knows
the second skin’s the body that we live off:
you are what you wear, he says,
and, what you wear catches you your food.


He has a talent for uneasiness,
drinks too much coffee, chooses to rehearse
the nag and riddle of the universe;
he scans the clearest sky for cumulus
to cloud the heart; declares, in self-embrace,
the arch-perfectionist a candidate for grace.

How can he sit at table, and delight
in cream and figs, and smile? He glumly goes
against the bright ideal of repose,
the lesser peace of coasting in the light,
like Noah in his arcane discipline
troubling wife and neighbour with his prophetic din.

Though he may see what others do not see,
poetry’s perception without power;
yet he abandons the sufficient hour
of milk and bread and apples from the tree
and schemes the hour the mind will not defraud
as he saws and he hammers, one eye on his god.

He salts the distant and unplundered sea,
forgets the portrait on the mantlepiece,
the oaken trestle and the bolster-fleece
and all heroic domesticity.
He sips his wine and spits his olive pips,
anticipates the pleasures of apocalypse.

And is it all a figment of the blood —
this famished, unameliorable mind,
this dream-demented, rhyme-encrusted, blind
imagination calling down a flood?
He stacks his eclogues in unpublished heaps,
diviner of a world in which the dreamer reaps.

So let him itch and twitch, a weatherfrog,
and watch his fingers stain with nicotine.
The nervous poet contemplates a green
Sahara, and, when all is night and fog,
the greater peace of sensing in the dark
miraculous mountains for his uncompassed ark.

David Solway

David Solway

David Solway’s most recent book of poetry is Reaching for Clear (2007). A previous volume, Franklin’s Passage (2004), was awarded Le Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal. A political study, The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism and Identity, appeared in 2007 with Lester, Mason & Begg/Random House. Appointed Poet-in-residence at Concordia University for 1999-2000, he is currently an associate editor with Books in Canada.

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